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146 VERDICT OX IXDIA
disease and of the efforts which Western medical science has made
to check it. Long ago I had reached the same conclusion as C.
MacLaurin, who summed up his study of European history with
the devastating generalization.. .'war and syphilis have been the
two chief scourges of mankind.'1
It was MacLaurin who originally set me on the track of this
scourge, a knowledge of whose evil workings is essential not only
to the contemporary historian but to the novelist, the journalist,
the priest,. .and indeed to all who study the hearts of men.
The war had only increased the urgent need for public know-
ledge. The seaports of Britain showed an increase of over
100 per cent; the munition factories provided figures almost as
startling ; and the flames of the curse were fanned by the influx of
large numbers of workers from Ireland, where, unfortunately, the
policy of the church has been firmly set against any tendency
towards sexual enlightenment.
This 'hush hush3 policy had been fought for many years by
several of us in Fleet Street, and it was a happy moment, when,
early in the war, I persuaded the editor of a great and influential
newspaper to publish an article—the fbrst of its kind—in which
the word 'syphilis' was plainly printed in black and wiiite, instead
of being cloaked by the cowardly euphemism.. .'a certain loath-
The irresponsible credulity of the Ayurvedic doctors, therefore,
was a little too much for my party manners. I murmured a few
vague 'Reallys' and 'How interesting,* observed that it was
vary hot, and took my leave.
Apart from the strong impetus given to Ayurveda by the rise
of nationalism, it has been quick to exploit the element of the
picturesque in, which it is so rich.
* We use powdered pearls ! * they exclaim.
'And the navels of unicorns, no doubt,9 we feel like retorting.
'Jewels play a great part in our system,' they cry ; 'rubies and
emerald^ and many semi-precious stones/
I myselt have tasted a spoonful of the celebrated mixture of
powdered pearls, which is mixed into a glistering white paste
mth sugar and rose-water. After taking it I felt, for a moment;"
* Post Mortem, by 0. MacLaniin (Jonathan Cape).